Japanese Gets Life In China For Drug Smuggling

Japanese gets life in China for drug smuggling

A Chinese court sentenced a former Japanese politician to life in prison on Friday for attempting to smuggle illegal drugs.

Takuma Sakuragi, a former assemblyman of Inazawa City, Aichi Prefecture, was detained in October 2013 for allegedly possessing more than three kilograms of stimulants in a suitcase at an airport in the city of Guangzhou, southern China.

The defendant had pleaded not guilty, saying he was asked by an acquaintance to take the suitcase, and was not aware that it contained illegal drugs.

Prosecutors had demanded the death penalty or a prison sentence of at least 15 years.

In handing down the sentence, the court said the defendant did not tell airport staff that the suitcase belonged to someone else, and that he had already checked the contents. It said these findings led to the conclusion that he knew the suitcase contained the drugs and he had tried to smuggle them.

Sakuragi's defense lawyer says his client cannot accept the court's decision and he will make an appeal.

The trial was concluded in August 2014, but the sentencing was delayed for more than five years. The court said the case was complicated and it needed time to examine the evidence.